Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest

Deadline: 29 November 2013
Open to: worldwide photographers who are 18 years old or older
Awards: range from $500 to $2,500


Smithsonian magazine is a monthly magazine created for modern, well-rounded individuals with diverse interests. It chronicles the arts, history, sciences and popular culture of the times. Smithsonian is now launching a photography competition.

What are the hallmarks of a winning image in Smithsonian magazine’s photo contest? Technical quality, clarity and composition are all important, but so too is a flair for the unexpected and the ability to capture a picture-perfect moment. Over the past eleven years, judges have seen over 290,000 photographs from more than 112 countries and they once again look forward to viewing the world through other people’s lens.

Enter photographs in any of the five categories—the American Experience, the Natural World, People, Travel and Altered Images—and compete to win cash prizes. This year Smithsonian is also looking forward to highlighting the best photographs taken with mobile devices, so as you enter your work into the aforementioned categories, let them know that it was taken with your phone or tablet reader and show them the wonders of this new generation of photography.

Five contest categories are drawn from subjects of special interest to Smithsonian:

  1. The American Experience—Events, objects or activities connecting the American people to their history or their cultural heritage; photographs that tell what it means to be an American and provide a sense of what it is like to live in this country.
  2. The Natural World—Animals, plants and landscapes; geological or climatological features; and scientific processes and endeavors.
  3. People—Individuals from all walks of life.
  4. Altered Images—Photographs manipulated for artistic purposes by applying digital and/or traditional special effects (i.e. colorizing, toning, collage, photo composites, HDR, etc.).
  5. Travel—Locales, peoples or activities in the United States and abroad that convey a sense of place.

A sixth category is for images taken with a mobile device (phone or tablet). The Smithsonian will award a prize to the best photograph submitted in any of the five categories that was taken with a mobile device. Entrants must affirmatively check the provided box to submit your annual contest entry to the mobile competition.

Read the Frequently Asked Questions page HERE for further details.


International photographers who are 18 years old or older are eligible. Exception is made for individuals affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, including employees, trustees, interns, volunteers, fellows, research associates and their immediate families (children, siblings and spouses) and others living in their households. The Smithsonian will determine winners’ eligibility in its sole discretion.


The Smithsonian will award eight prizes, as follows:

  • Grand Prize: $2,500
  • Category Winners: The winners of each of the five categories will receive $500.
  • Readers’ Choice: The winner of the online Readers’ Choice award will receive $500.
  • Mobile: The best photo in any of the five categories that was taken with a mobile device will receive $500.

One cash prize per person; winners may receive additional non-cash prizes. Winners will be responsible for paying any taxes they may owe on a prize.


Submit photographs and requested information online HERE. Submit no more than seven photographs per category. High-quality scans of non-digital photographs are acceptable. Digital photographs should be taken at the highest resolution possible. Complete a separate form for each photo submitted. Photographs must be in a .jpeg, .jpg or .gif format. Files submitted may not be larger than 5Mb. The 60 finalists will be asked to submit a high-resolution file or an original negative, print or slide. Original negatives, prints, or slides will be returned to finalists.

All entries must be uploaded by 2:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, Friday, November 29th, 2013. Finalists will be announced on March 3, 2014.

The full rules may be read HEREPlease e-mail further questions to or use their feedback form HERE.

For further information, please visit the official website HERE.

Leave a Reply